As our loved ones grow older and experience life’s changes, it’s important to take into account their perspectives and communicate freely with them on topics like health, housing, or finances. Remember, even if you are comfortable discussing these topics and feel like you understand your loved one, you have not walked in their shoes so listening to their perspective is key.
MAKE IMPORTANT DECISIONS
Making decisions that elicit change can be intimidating, but it is important to have these conversations and maintain open communication throughout the entire process. “You have to give them information and help guide them,” said Tina, regional director of life enrichment with The Goodman Group. “Let them participate in the decision-making process.”
One of the most important decisions that older adults face is determining the right time to leave their home and move into a senior living community. Wendy W., daughter of a resident at Terracina Grand in Naples, FL, recommends having conversations early when your parents are still able to decide what type of community would be a perfect fit for them. “Let it be their decision,” said Wendy. “Get them thinking about it while they’re still able to make those choices.”
Discussing the cost of living arrangements is important, too. Keep your options and mind open when researching different communities.
TIPS FOR CONNECTING
Your family is a team that should be working together with everyone’s best interests in mind, especially when one or more of the members is going through a natural but difficult change. While every family is unique, here are some tips that may help strengthen your family bonds:
- Have patience and be empathetic to how your loved one may be feeling.
- Be an active listener so that you truly hear them, and also let them know they have been heard. Stress that no conversation is off-limits.
- Build trust by advocating for them.
- Be consistent–call or check in regularly to let them know they have a strong support system
FORM BETTER RELATIONSHIPS
Open communication is the catalyst for better relationships. While you may only know Mom and Dad as parents, take the time to get to know them outside of that role. Initiate discussions about their past, present, and future.
Clare S., daughter of another resident at Terracina Grand, feels that better conversations with her mom have created a happier relationship. “There is more friendship now. We had previously lost that. There was nothing to look forward to or laugh about,” said Clare. “Now there is more happiness, more joyful times. She is more like the mom that I grew up with.”
Life is a journey filled with significant transitional moments. From the birth of a child to retirement, these changes can be overwhelming if you don't know what to expect. One of these major moments is moving a loved one to a senior living community. This can be a time filled with mixed emotions, but many find that senior living communities offer numerous opportunities for happiness and joy. Whatever the life event, keep these tips in mind when approaching conversations with your aging parents.